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Homeland Security Decides It's Okay to Get Grabby with Your Hard Drive

February 13, 2013 at 3:36 PM | by | Comments (0)

In 2008 we were all like "can you believe security officers are allowed to search your hard drive just because you're crossing the border?" And then in 2009 we were all like "can you believe security officers are allowed to search your hard drive just because you're crossing the border? And also your digital camera? And also your mp3 player? And also your flash drive?" Which is to say, we've been less than enthusiastic about this particular airport security policy for a while.

So imagine our excitement when we learned that the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security would be investigating and then producing a report on the policy. This is a division within DHS charged with protecting the civil liberties of Americans. It says so right there in the name. Meanwhile we're pretty sure that—under some theories we've heard of, at least—forcing U.S. citizens to hand over their data to the U.S. government in the absence not just of a warrant but of any suspicion is a violation of their civil liberties. Done and done, right?

Not so much. Instead it turns out that the office's mission—"promoting respect for civil rights and civil liberties in policy creation and implementation"—doesn't include protecting U.S. citizens from suspicion-less, warrant-less searches of their data. DHS issued a summary of the report stating exactly that. Because of security, you see.

Suffice it to say that the ACLU greeted the decision with something short of unabashed enthusiasm. "Troubling" was among the nicer adjectives.

The punchline to this nonsense, by the by, is that DHS is refusing to release the full report. So you can't know anything about why they get to know everything about your digital life. Also because of security, in case you were wondering.

[Photo: @Saigon / Flickr]

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